Friday, September 04, 2009

US.5- The Day After Thursday

After all the dramatics of Thursday, you sort of knew the odds were that things would settle down a little on Friday.

They did.

Oh, Venus Williams actually got a little 2nd set competition on Night 5 from Magdalena Rybarikova, who apparently lost the nail on one of her big toes the other day (ouch), but their match still maintained the straight sets streak under the lights ever since the opening Venus/Vera Dushevina opening night contest.

Really, the only headline on the women's side from Day 5 was the ouster of Victoria Azarenka, which sort of came from nowhere after she'd been so dominant in the first two rounds. See, I knew it was a bad sign to have Brad Gilbert agree with me about Azarenka's semifinal prospects. Veteran Francesca Schiavone lost the 1st set and had to deal with an injury, but she still managed to frustrate the Belarusian and win the final two sets fairly handily. Thus, Azarenka's North American hard court season ends up being one of the most disappointing put up by a top player this summer, which is saying something considering you have to dig a little to find even a handful of women (Flavia Pennetta, Kim Clijsters and umm, well, I'm sure there's someone else who's not coming immediately to mind) who at this point would be able to say they've gotten as much or more out of their 3Q campaigns as anyone could have conceived a few months ago.

Azarenka's position in the draw right in the direct path of the likes of Serena Williams and Clijsters (or the gathering-steam Venus) probably meant her days were numbered, anyway. But still.

Normally, Azarenka's loss would be accompanied by more discussion than this. But after yesterday, her exit seems sort of anticlimactic.

...I figure this is as good a time as any to put together a list of a few, but not all, of the (so far)) nominations for the remaining major Backspin Awards to be given out at this Open:

Maria Sharapova: someone has to benefit from all the top half upsets, and she's the most recent Open champ still alive up there
Flavia Pennetta: she's won nearly two times as many matches this quarter as any other Top 10er
Caroline Wozniacki: she might be able to quietly slip into the QF/SF region under the radar
Li Na/Francesca Schiavone: one of them is going to get the Venus/Kim winner in the QF
Nadia Petrova: good for Nadia for not folding up her '09 slam tent and going home, which she could have done after so little success coming into New York

Melanie Oudin: as good as done (as the official "It Girl," I mean)
Caroline Wozniacki: with Azarenka gone, she's the Top 10 teenager mostly likely to have her best-ever slam result
Sorana Cirstea: of course, Cirstea might having something to say about that (she's already defeated her best friend C-Woz in a slam once this year, in Paris... and today they teamed up to oust Azarenka/Zvonareva in doubles)
Yanina Wickmayer: how strange would it be if she ended up being the Last Belgian Standing?

Kim Clijsters: her 4th Rounder vs. Venus will tell the tale
Maria Sharapova: she'll likely have to outlast Clijsters by at least two rounds, though
Nadia Petrova: of course, she might end up having to face Sharapova YET AGAIN this summer in the 4th Round
Shahar Peer: Dubai-shmubai.
Dinara Safina: after all the hounding and grand slam implosions, she'd "sort of" qualify even though she's the #1 seed

...and, finally, while there's been little to complain about with ESPN2's U.S. Open coverage (tonights Taylor Dent shout-out to the crowd via the umpire's microphone was the first truly classic "Open at Night" moment of the tournament), there is a little side note concerning this weekend that I just noticed. While the network had made a big deal about getting the rights to air the tournament, there's been no mention of the fact that the network won't be airing the nightly evening session coverage over the weekend due to commitments to NASCAR and MLB. From what I can tell, coverage isn't being shifted to ESPN, ESPNEWS or ESPN Classic, either.

Apparently, Tennis Channel, according to the listings I have, gets the honor of airing the matches lives, including the potential scene-stealing Sharapova/Oudin match tomorrow night (coupled with an all-American Roddick/Isner 3rd Rounder to round out the best nighttime lineup so far) and probably Clijsters/Venus Sunday night, as well. Only ESPN could get the rights to the one slam on American soil, and then not air night matches on a holiday weekend. Sheesh. I'm sure TC will do a good job, though... and it likely means Martina Navratilova will do the women's matches, which is always nice. If only she could do it with Jimmy Connors, who would probably see a great deal in the scrappy 17-year old American that would remind him of himself.

Ah, but the best news for the weekend coverage is that CBS steps into the spotlight for the first time this slam season. Which means, of course... no NBC! No NBC! No NBC! Oh, such sweet music to the ears.

[NOTE: Grrrr, I just realized that I read the Saturday schedule wrong. Amazingly, the Sharapova/Oudin and Roddick/Isner matches aren't in the night session. Truly mindboggling. What's the schedule? Safina/Kvitova and Blake/Robredo. Please. Seriously, who's scheduling this Open, anyway? The first week schedule has been the worst I've ever seen.]

2-0...Venus Williams, USA
2-0...Maria Sharapova, RUS
1-0...Serena Williams, USA
0-1...Melinda Czink, HUN
0-1...Vera Dushevina, RUS
0-1...Christina McHale, USA
0-1...Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL
0-1...Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK

TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): Serena Williams/USA
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: Eva Hrdinova/CZE def. Laura Robson/GBR 7-6/4-6/7-6
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd.- Melanie Oudin/USA d. #4 Elena Dementieva/RUS 5-7/6-4/6-3
FIRST SEED OUT: #25 Kaia Kanepi/EST (1st Rd.-Chang/TPE)
FIRST WIN: (WC) Vania King/USA (def. Anastasiya Yakimova/BLR)
UPSET QUEENS: The Americans
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Anastasia Rodionova/AUS (to 3rd Rd.)
IT GIRL: xxx
CRASH & BURN: #4 Elena Dementieva/RUS (2nd Rd.-Oudin/USA
ZOMBIE QUEEN: [Temporary: Venus Williams/USA down 7-6/3-1 vs. Vera Dushevina/RUS in 1st Rd.; Dinara Safina/RUS down 3-0 in 3rd set vs. Olivia Rogowska/AUS in 1st Rd., and 2-0 in 3rd set vs. Kristina Barrois/GER in 2nd Rd.]

All for Day 5. More tonight or tomorrow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking for a upset. If Safina loses, there will be an unseeded semifinalist. Who would had thought?

Sat Sep 05, 03:09:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

I just added the following note to the post:

NOTE: Grrrr, I just realized that I read the Saturday schedule wrong. Amazingly, the Sharapova/Oudin and Roddick/Isner matches aren't in the night session. Truly mindboggling. What's the schedule? Safina/Kvitova and Blake/Robredo. Please. Seriously, who's scheduling this Open, anyway? The first week schedule has been the worst I've ever seen.]

Really, it never even crossed my mind that'd I'd looked at the schedule wrong. It goes against reason. I checked it early, and many times the night matches are listed before the rest of the schedule is filled out, so I pretty much just gave it a cursory glance because, quite simply, I thought it was a no-brainer that Sharapova/Oudin would be given the under-the-lights treatment.

Nicolas Kiefer actually took a set off Rafael Nadal last night, so that straight sets streak ended. But, still, somehow the organizers have managed to take the best part of the entire grand slam season and turned it into a snooze-fest. It's not as if thought-good matches turned out to be boring affairs, it's that the possibly competitive matches haven't even been scheduled. Unless Safina does another Russian Roulette performance, Night 6 will likely continue the pattern (I simply don't care what happens with Blake, since he'll eventually choke away a match somewhere down the line if he manages to win, anyway).

Now I wonder if they'll even have the intelligence to schedule Venus/Clijsters for Sunday night. We'll probably get Serena/Hantuchova.

Sat Sep 05, 11:34:00 AM EDT  

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